Arrow S3.21 – “AL Sah-Him”

“Gone but not forgotten.” A message John Diggle shared with his family, Felicity and Thea, is the feel of tonight’s Arrow. Oliver Queen remained with Ra’s al Ghul to save Thea, protect his friends and the city. “Al Sah-him” shows Ra’s has very different plans for Oliver, his friends and Starling City.

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**SPOILERS ALERT**

Humorously, I was not surprised when within the first ten minutes of the episode they already explained the promo of showing Oliver having to choose to kill John Diggle. Unfortunately, that was about the only humor to this week’s episode. I didn’t expect for Diggle to die, but I also didn’t expect for Oliver to kill John Diggle, even if only in his mind.  Then we find out he had been drugged to believe the random red shirt was his best friend. At this point, I called “BS” because in all of the brainwashing and trainings we saw, it was nothing Oliver hadn’t endured during the first five years on the island and beyond.   All I can say is that even though the writing wasn’t handled well, I could see this is all setting up the rest of the season.

We find Felicity and Thea with the Diggle family in what looks to be a regular meal together. It turns into this fractured clan grieving over the loss of Oliver while they try to figure out what will be the new normal. At the same time, Black Canary, the only mask left in the city, is on patrol while being trained by Nyssa. I have had a few conversations with friends about Laurel’s lack of fighting style. I get that it makes sense that she’s not at the same fighting level as Ollie, Sara, or even Thea now. My hope was with Nyssa there would be more progress that she would at least be at Roy’s skill level. Unfortunately, while she is improving, she is no where even close to where Thea is after months training with Malcolm.

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During the post-fight, Laurel introduced Nyssa to fries and a shake, translating into what normal people do on their downtime. You can see that Laurel is trying to return the favor Nyssa showed Sara years earlier.   It also helps that Nyssa is preparing Laurel in the fighting skills much needed after Team Arrow seemed to allow her alongside them, but not in the training sessions. Unfortunately, when Laurel told Nyssa that Oliver agreed to become heir to the demon, Nyssa demeanor changed completely. She knew that Oliver would find her and wage war in order to kill her.  Of course Laurel gets Nyssa to agree to talk with Diggle and Felicity, and she wants them to help protect Nyssa from Oliver. I think she also simply wants them to know Oliver may be back in Starling City.

I had a number of issues this week. Most of them surrounding Oliver’s change of personality against the very people for whom he chose to sacrifice his life. You can’t tell me kidnapping Lyla and leaving Sara alone in the house honors John Diggle in any way. Another HUGE issue I have is, last week focused on how to get Oliver out of Ra’s’ compound and back to Starling City, why was this NOT considered especially with a Scarlet Speedster minutes away with a pretty awesome holding cell if necessary.

I will say the fight between “Dark Oliver” and Nyssa was what I think most fans have come to expect. The first fight simply gets Diggle and Felicity in the game with a bonus feature introducing Cisco’s Canary Cry into Arrow. As soon as I heard it, I knew we were one step closer to having Black Canary on Arrow.

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This first fight allows time for the heroes of Starling City to accept that the Arrow is gone, and all that remains is “Dark Oliver.” When John and Felicity find Sara home alone and Lyla kidnapped, it was clear he was serious. What Oliver wanted was a switch, Nyssa for Lyla. It had been a long time since I had seen John Diggle this angry. Who could blame him with his wife kidnapped by his best friend who left his baby alone in the house? I was angry, and I knew it wasn’t real. As Diggle said, “Some lines you don’t cross.”

With one Queen down, another begins her journey becoming a heroine that for many of us, we have been waiting for. Thea Queen enlists the help of Malcolm to suit up against her older brother. It wasn’t a fight, rather an arrow in Ollie’s arm. When he looks to see that it is his sister who shot him, warning him she would place the next one in his eye, he backs down. You could see a glimmer that Ollie is still in there. Unfortunately Oliver still left with Nyssa.

I think the last scene where Al Sah-him is back with his master that Ra’s shows his true colors. He had Oliver Queen, the man he wants as his heir. He also has his daughter back whom he declares will marry Oliver to unite the families. At this point it was clear CW created “Bat-Arrow”. Bruce Wayne has been betrothed to Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter in the comics for decades. I love Arrow, I really do, but I have such an issue with this. Arrow has shown to be pretty amazing without having to use old material from the Batman universe.

The last scene between Ra’s and Oliver sets up the rest of the season along with giving merit to the back story that has been running for most of the season. Ra’s wants Oliver to complete his transformation into his heir by having Oliver kill Starling City by the same means Hong Kong was to be killed years earlier.  I am looking forward to see how this plays out. I didn’t think this was one of the best standalone episodes, though I knew it was setting up what I can hope will be some really amazing episodes to follow.

Post Author: Keifer Knight

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